How to Avoid Middle School Drama
By Jennifer O’Donnell
Choose Friends Carefully: It’s hard to tell a child who just wants to be accepted by her peers to choose her friends carefully, but it is important to point out what makes a great friend. Encourage your child to develop friendships with people who have similar interests and who refrain from gossip and drama. Point out how a frenemy can be harmful and make life miserable. If your child has great friendships, gossip and drama will be minimal.
Don’t Gossip: Gossip is the root of all school drama, and by avoiding it your child may steer clear of a lot of unnecessary drama. Encourage her to say NO to gossip and to resist the urge to pass it along.
Minimize Your Online Presence: A lot of the school drama that happens today begins on Facebook, Twitter or via email or texts. It’s a lot to ask, but if your child waits a few years to open a Facebook account, the benefits will probably outweigh the negatives. If you can’t convince your child to steer clear of Facebook, write a social networking contract that your tween has to sign. The contract will detail what behavior is and is not allowed online.
Shrug it Off: Let’s face it, middle school can get ugly and so can the behavior of peers and even good friends. While your child may feel slighted by or upset over the behavior of a friend, it might make more sense to help her learn how to shrug it off, rather than make a big deal over the incident. Tweens have a habit of making a big deal over trivial things. Help your child recognize the difference between an incident that requires follow-up and one that should just be forgotten or ignored.
Keep it to Yourself: You want your child to confide in friends when she needs to, but it’s also important for a tween or teen to know when to keep private information private. This is a hard lesson for some to learn, and many learn it the hard way. The bottom line: if you don’t want everyone to know about something, it’s best not to tell anyone, or to only tell a close friend whom you know is reliable and will keep your secrets. On the flip side, your child should also understand that when a friend confides in her, she’s not to spread the information around. The exception is when a friend might be in a troubling situation, and then it might be wise to tell a trusted adult.
Be Honest: Drama often starts with a lie. Even little white lies can cause a lot of trouble. If your child tells her friend that she can’t spend the night because she’s sick, but really she’s hanging out with another friend, that’s the beginning of trouble. Encourage your tween to be honest with her friends, and to avoid those little white lies. They may seem like a good idea at the time, but they can end friendships and start a lot of trouble.